February 15, 2002
A film that premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival, Last Orders is a last-minute addition to the release schedule by Sony Pictures Classics. Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Graham Swift, the movie has received almost universally outstanding reviews and may have some dark horse contenders for Academy Awards.
Australian director Fred Schepisi (Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation) also took on screenwriting duties and makes use of authentic locations throughout the drama. The ubiquitous Michael Caine plays the central character in the film: Jack Dodds, a butcher who has recently died and gives his friends instructions to scatter his ashes off the end of a pier in Margate, where he honeymooned and hoped to retire. Jack’s three friends (played by Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay and David Hemmings) and his adopted son (Ray Winstone) drive together to the seaside to carry out his last wishes. As they make the journey, the friends reminisce about their experiences over the past 40 years and work through their grief and memories together.
The film flashes between present day and key moments in the past, and also switches viewpoints as much of the story is told through the eyes of Jack’s widow, played by Helen Mirren. She chooses not to make the trip with the men, but instead deals with her feelings by visiting her mentally disabled daughter, whom Jack refused to acknowledge.
All of these pieces add up to an evocative drama that is apparently filled with wry humor. Last Orders will initially only have a limited run in New York City and Los Angeles, but it will likely see some slight expansion in the coming months. (Kim Hollis/BOP)